It is that time again: QP’s editors and contributors look back on a year of watches to pick their favourites from 2017
By Chris Hall
We have arrived, somewhat abruptly it seems to us, at the end of 2017. Hundreds of new watches have passed before our eyes; some never to be thought of again, others to linger long in our hearts. It has not necessarily been a superlative year for the watch industry – tentatively, a recovery is on the way – but we have seen an array of new watches spanning a remarkable diversity of styles. Some of them even border on the affordable, although let’s not kid ourselves too much.
Having asked our family of contributing writers and editors for their favourites, the results are interesting. Complications do not feature heavily on our list: the overriding theme is clarity of design and purpose. There is whimsy and decoration aplenty, but it seems this year’s crop of tourbillons, perpetual calendars and minute repeaters left us cold. Big brands largely won out over small players, although a couple of independent watchmakers did make an appearance. Feel free to disagree with us on Twitter and Facebook!
Chanel Premiere Camelia Skeleton
Naming my watch of the year was a really difficult thing to do – see my runners up, below. Out of two excellent watches from Chanel, among many others, it was the Première Camélia Skeleton that won my heart. It is powered by Chanel’s Calibre 2, which has bridges shaped to look like a camellia; has a wonderful mix of the muscular – the movement is DLC coated – and the romantic – it’s a watch powered by a flower with diamonds on it – and is quite simply the most swoon-inducing watch I’ve had on my wrist all year.
Dior’s Grand Soir Botanics
Simply eight of the most incredible examples of high-jewellery watchmaking I’d ever seen
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Frosted Gold
This made me actually want to own an Audemars Piguet – can’t say more than that, really.
Chanel’s J12 Mademoiselle.
For a healthy dose of humour you couldn’t beat Chanel’s J12 Mademoiselle, with its cartoon Coco.
Timothy Barber, Telegraph Watch Editor
Bulgari Octo Finissimo Automatic
Patek Philippe Reference 7130G
It is often harder than you might think to find a luxury women’s watch that balances horological expertise, beautiful design and just the right amount of diamond adornment. Fortunately, the Patek Philippe Reference 7130G Ladies’ World Time in peacock blue does just that. The watch has a guilloché centre, a bi-coloured centre ring with 24-hour markers and a sunburst-effect outer ring with 24 international cities. Its white gold case is ideal at 36mm, with a sparkling but not ostentatious diamond-set bezel. Inside it is powered by the automatic calibre 240 HU – also used in men’s World Timers – with a 48-hour power reserve.
Omega Speedmaster 38mm Co-Axial Chronometer Chronograph
Hermès Nantucket Jeté de diamants
In-keeping with the theme of serious complications for women, the Omega Speedmaster 38mm Co-Axial Chronometer Chronograph was a welcome surprise this year. For something a little more party-ready, the Hermès Nantucket Jeté de diamants is a lesson in style and colour.
Dior Grand Soir Botanic
Felix Scholz, Editor Time & Tide Watches
Bulgari Octo Finissimo Automatic
If I was ever tasked with writing a peppy PowerPoint summing up the trials and tribulations of the luxury watch industry in 2017 (surely it’s only a matter of time guys?) I’d definitely use the tagline ‘excellence through adversity’ liberally. For me no watch has embodied this mix of innovation and restraint better than the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Automatic. The world’s (second) thinnest production auto, in an idiosyncratic case. Not my usual thing, but every time I put it on I get that sense of barely-there wonderment, without the too-delicate anxiety that typically goes with ultra thin watches. A bravura effort.
James Buttery, Print Editor
Tudor Heritage Black Bay Chronograph
This one caught me by surprise at Basel and has had my attention ever since. The Tudor Heritage Black Bay Chronograph is, as far as I’m concerned one of the most compelling watches in recent memory, offering a rugged, evocative design that maintains its integrity despite having been forced through the ‘vintage-inspired’ filter, and a manufacture movement (even if that’s not a Tudor manufacture movement, but a proven and upgraded Breitling B01) all for £3,610 on a steel bracelet.
Romain Gauthier Insight Micro Rotor
From its micro rotor mounted between jewelled bearings and sandwiched between two bridges to the off-centre peak of its domed sapphire crystal, the Insight illustrates the innovative solutions of one of the most imaginative engineers working in the field of horology. And that’s before you get to the sublime finishing.
Finally it happened: I liked a smartwatch, those soulless pieces of disposable tech I’ve rallied against for so long. So what makes the Horizon any different aside from that cool convex case? It is designed with a specific purpose in mind, to make your jet-setting more pleasurable.
Chris Hall, Digital Editor
A. Lange & Sohne 1815 Flyback Chronograph
The A. Lange and Sohne 1815 chrono isn’t a wholly new watch, but was given a black dial for the first time in 2017, a step which elevated it from excellent to faultless. It was already one of the best-made hand-wound chronographs in the world; now, with a black lacquered dial it is the best looking, too. Purists will appreciate that it fills a void left by the equivalent now-discontinued Patek Philippe 5170 chronograph, at a far lower price, as well as adding a flyback function. On top of all this, it is a perfect size at 39.5mm and a total delight to operate.
Laurent Ferrier’s Montre Ecole
Gorgeous to look at from any angle, decorated to perfection and simple enough to wear everywhere.
I thought I had tired of new Heritage Black Bay models from Tudor – and then this came along. The Harrods green special edition is my favourite of the range so far.